Tag: Portland OR

New Video: Blue Canopy Teams Up with Misty Boyce and Patrick J. Smith on Slow-Burning “Stranger At The Door”

Portland, OR-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alex Schiff started his music career as a co-writer for indie outfit Modern Rivals — and with Modern Rivals, Schiff has shared stages with the likes of Ra Ra Riot, Stars, and The Black Keys.

Since his time with Modern Rivals, Schiff has stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist with his recording project Blue Canopy, which sees the Portland-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist combining versatile songwriting chops and exuberant melodies to convey nostalgia as a force to move forward. Sonically, Blue Canopy sees Schiff weaving dream pop, psych rock-inspired guitars and expansive electronic soundscapes. The end result is work that’s introspective at a time when self-reflection seems more crucial than ever.

So far, Schiff has released two Blue Canopy EPs 2020’s Mild Anxiety and last yer’s Sleep While You Can, which featured additional instrumentation and co-production from A Beacon School‘s Patrick J. Smith.

Schiff’s latest Blue Canopy single, the slow-burning and meditative “Stranger At The Door” features vocals from Misty Boyce, who has worked with Sara Bareilles and BØRNS and guitar from A Beacon School’s Patrick J. Smith. Featuring glistening synths arpeggios, skittering beats, a sinuous bass line paired with Boyce’s gorgeous vocals, “Stranger At The Door” sounds like a synthesis of Currents-era Tame Impala and Quiet Storm soul while centered around earnest, seemingly lived-in lyricism.

Interestingly, “Stranger At The Door” examines social anxieties in the COVID era, but written from the perspective of his dog Banjo, who has become increasingly anxious and paranoid over the past few months, as the world returns to a certain version o of normalcy.

‘”Stranger At The Door’ is a song from my dog Banjo’s perspective. He’s been super anxious and paranoid since we moved to a new house. He’s especially worried that there is someone or something dangerous at the front door. Some of it, and the inspiration is from his perspective. I relate it later in the song to my own social anxieties that have escalated since COVID. I often don’t feel comfortable in my own skin, or without a mask, or around people in general.”

Directed by Alex Beebee, the accompanying video for “Stranger At The Door” is a surrealistic fever dream featuring a mix of animation, grainy super 8-like live footage rooted in nostalgia.

Marion Belle is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, who over the better part of the past decade, has released material as a solo artist, with late, longtime collaborator Sam Mehran, Yves Tumor’s Sean Bowie, and with his primary gig, Fatal Jamz.

With Fatal Jamz, Belle has toured with Sky Ferreira, Smiths Westerns, Lemon Twigs and Christopher Owens and a lengthy list of others. Back during the fall of 2018, Belle was closing out a raucous two year record cycle supporting his full-length debut Coverboy, an album that i-D called “a glam rock Romeo & Juliet.”

Returning to Los Angeles with a batch of new songs and fans craving more music, Belle was looking for ways to produce another album. Around that time, he met Sam Mehran, a London-based musician and producer, who quickly achieved fame, as a co-founder of Test Icicles, a band that he started with his friends Dev Hynes and Rory Atwell. Mehran was an obsession to all who knew him: At once kind, generous and warm, hilarious, brilliant, he would frequently vanish into a world of his own. As it turned out, he was used to being alone, or with his guitar, since he left home at 18.

One night, while in his secret world, Mehran hoped on a flight to Portland, OR, slipping out of the UK and out of Test Icicles forever. By the time, he had answered an email introduction and met Belle outside an East Los Angeles lockout, Mehran’s myth and work had traveled through a decade’s worth of talismanic lo-fi albums released under a variety of handles.

Upon his return to Los Angeles — and the neighborhood he called his spiritual home, the British-born producer and musician had tapped into a wildly prolific period, producing Samantha Urbani’s Policies of Power EP, Puro Instinct‘s Autodrama and Ssion’s 2018 full-length 0.

“He was tapped at the time we met,” said Belle. “He was like, man I’m tired of sitting behind laptops and doing this (mimics typing.) He was like, ‘I don’t care man.’” Spiritually wiped and struggling to come out of a painful place, and feeling cast aside, he and Belle found shared ground. “In my own way I was in a similar place. But we started writing right away because for both of us making music, the process of it, was always the solution, it was always the answer. 

Between February and late July wrote about ten tracks. “Promenade,” was written the first day they met. “I told Sam I was into the Bad Boy Records‘ production and played him a Mase song. We basically jumped into it from there. When we wrote “Way of Life,” we knew that we had an album because that song epitomized the kind of ride or die songs we both wanted to make. That song was our baby because it’s about how music is the way of life. 

On July 21, 2018 Belle dropped Mehran off at his apartment after spending the day in Van Nuys scoring a pair of NS-10 speakers. Mehran was set to mix their EP the next day. But tragically, that would be the last time the Belle would see Mehran again.

Sometime on July 27, 2018 Mehran committed suicide, succumbing to mental health challenges and demons he had battled throughout most of his life. “I think that our bond was profound because we both felt, after all we had each been through, we had been brought together for a reason,” Belle says of his collaboration and friendship with Mehran. “And that reason was to help each other to not give up. Sam lived and created in a different way. It was actual magic. And I knew every day that this chance to create with him was going to be one of the greatest treasures of my life. He was incredibly happy and up, up to that very last day we were together. We were going to take on the world, defeat all our own curses, and he was going to be everything he ever wanted to be. In losing Sam, so many people lost the light of their life. And the world lost so much incredible music.”

Belle’s long-awaited sophomore, full-length Fatal Jamz album is forthcoming.I’m sure more details will be coming in the near future. But in the meantime, the album’s second and latest single, the ethereal “Eternity” is centered around gentle layers of atmospheric synths and twinkling keys paired with a sinuous bass line, glistening guitars, a propulsive back beat and Belle’s achingly plaintive vocals. Written in the months following Mehran’s death, “Eternity” sonically manages to subtly bring Avalon-era Roxy Music to mind, as the new single is rooted in heartbreak and unfathomable and inexplicable loss.

“This song, and the whole album really, came to me from another place, truly like a gift from the gods to help me make something beautiful out of all that and heal, move forward positively,” Belle says. “Moments of ecstasy are always present, like doors for us to open anytime we choose. When I sing ‘Eternity’ and enter the music, I open that eternal doorway and ascend.”

Portland, OR-based electro pop duo Dreckig — married couple Papi Fimbres and Shana Lindbeck — derive their project’s name from the German word for dirty. Believing that destiny led them to meet each other, the project is fueled by the duo’s desire to honor their respective Mexican and German heritages in a new and collaborative way.

Sonically, the duo have crafted a sound that meshes cumbia rhythms, motorik groove-driven krautrock and electronic music — with lyrics written and sung in Spanish, English and German.

Slated for release on Friday through San Francisco-based Broken Clover Records, the Portland-based duo’s third album Digital Exposure sees the duo continuing their ongoing collaboration with Pinewave Studio‘s Johann Wagner. The album thematically touches on social constructs, our impact on the environment and embracing every day life.

Digital Exposure‘s latest single “La Ballena” is a slow-burning and lysergic bop centered around oscillating synths, fluttering and looping flute, cumbia rhythms and a relentless motorik groove paired with lyrics chanted and crooned in a sonorous Spanish. While sonically being a feverish synthesis of Kraftwerk and Meridian Brothers, “La Ballena” for me conjures an image of a dancer on narcotics, gently swaying to the song.

New Single: The Shivas Share a Summery and Trippy Blast

Since their formation back in 2006, the Portland, OR-based psych rock outfit The Shivas — Jared Molyneux (vocals, guitar), Eric Shanafelt (bass), Kristin Leonard (vocals, drums) and their newest member Jeff City (guitar) — have honed a sound that conjures the lysergic, late ’60s-to-early ’70s rock ‘n’ roll and pop: The Mamas & The Papas-like harmonies? Sure thing! Big guitar riffs? Sure thing! And it sounds as though it were recored on top-of-the-line-quarter-inch, four-track tape machine? Yep, that too!

So recently, the folks at Suicide Squeeze convinced the members of The Shivas to take part in the label’s Pinks & Purples Digital Singles Series. The Portland-based psych rock outfit contributed “Doom Revolver,” a fittingly lysergic jam featuring enormous, power chord driven riffs, thunderous drumming, Molyneux’s and Leonard’s gorgeous and uncanny harmonies within a head-spinning song structure. Play loud, tune out, man.

“‘Doom Revolver’ was written over the last couple of years,” The Shivas’ Jared Molyneux explains. “It was recorded in January of 2022 at Trash Treasury, and was produced by Cameron Spies. The cover image is a polaroid from a real life UFO encounter in themiddle of nowhere, Oregon. . .”

Stella Mar is a Seattle-based singer/songwriter and pop artist, who makes music that’s inspired by and informed by the challenges and hurdles she’s cleared throughout her life; or as she puts it “pop bangers for the languidly queer.”

As the story goes, when she was 13, Mar was told by professionals that she’d never be a good singer with her vocal tone and range, and that she should give up her lifelong dream of being a performer. She could have been discouraged and quit; but instead, she pushed harder to make her dream come true. Eventually Mar started to play shows in Portland and Seattle.

Mar’s full-length debut, last year’s White Noise was a concept album that featured a blend of electronic production and acoustic guitar — and the album received praise from local and regional press with outlets and podcasts describing the Seattle-based artist and her voice as “part-Jeff Buckley, part-Arlo Parks.

Building upon a growing profile, Mar worked with Seattle music industry veterans Matthew Wolk and Nic Casey on “The Way” and “Mean to You,” the follow-up to her full-length debut. The Nicholas KZ-produced “The Way” is a crafted pop banger centered around glistening synth arpeggios, thumping beats, a rousingly anthemic, shout-along worthy chorus paired with Mar’s achingly plaintive vocals, which simultaneously drip with heartache and bitter spite. The song calls out, a fuckboi and wannabe player, who’s playing games with the song’s earnest and devoted narrator.

In the song’s chorus, Mar’s narrator begs this person to “show her the way” to their heart. But as the song suggests, the narrator begins to catch on that he’s duplicitous, manipulative, scheming and flat out toxic. As Mar explains, the song is for anyone, who has ever been played and might have given in to the temptation of a toxic personality. The song’s universality paired with its accessibly is part of its charm: if you’ve been there, the song speaks to you deeply and personally, as it’s a much-needed, cathartic tell off.

Initially formed in Chicago back in 2019 and now currently based Portland, OR, the members of rising indie rock outfit Koalra quickly established a sound and songwriting approach indebted to 120 Minutes-era alt rock — in particular, The CureDinosaur Jr., WeenSonic YouthBoyracer, and The Thermals, as well as contemporaries like No Age, and Waaves

In the almost three years since their formation, the Portland-based outfit has been remarkably prolific: They’ve released three albums and a handful of EPs, including 2019’s self-titled debut, last year’s The Wakes and this year’s Into The Everything. Interestingly, Into The Everything, which featured “Water’s Push” found the rising indie rock act pushing their sound into decidedly New Wave territory. 

Koalra’s fourth album Love Songs To Remind Us That We Can’t Stand Each Other continues upon the band’s reputation for being prolific while being a collection of songs inspired by the disenchantment of our current sociopolitical climate, as well as a major lineup change — and their recent relocation to Portland.

Last month, I wrote about the  4AD Records-like “Sight Unseen,” a track centered around atmospheric synths, angular guitars, a driving, motorik-like groove, plaintive vocals and an enormous hook. Thematically, the song focused on some familiar and universal themes — in particular, nostalgia over a youthful yet major love that’s been long lost.

“When We Fall” is a melodic and yearning bit of post punk featuring shimmering and atmospheric synths, plaintive vocals, a driving 80s New Order-like groove, propulsive four-on-the-floor and a swooning hook. Much like its immediate predecessor, “When We Fall” is centered around a familiar nostalgia — of a time and place that you can’t quite get back.

New Video: Rising Indie Act Koalra Releases a Nostalgia Inducing Visual for Shimmering “Sight Unseen”

Formed in Chicago back in 2019 and now currently based Portland, OR, the members of rising indie rock outfit Koalra quickly established a sound and songwriting approach indebted to 120 Minutes-era alt rock — in particular, The CureDinosaur Jr., WeenSonic YouthBoyracer, and The Thermals, as well as contemporaries like No Age, and Waaves

Since their formation, the now Portland-based act have been remarkably prolific. They’ve released three albums and a handful of EPs, including 2019’s self-titled debut, last year’s The Wakes and this year’s Into The Everything, as well as a handful of EPs. Interestingly, Into The Everything, which featured “Water’s Push” found the rising indie rock act pushing their sound into New Wave territory.

Koalra’s fourth album Love Songs To Remind Us That We Can’t Stand Each Other is a collection of love songs inspired by the disenchantment of our current sociopolitical climate. The album is sparked by a lineup change and the change of location. The album’s latest single “Sight Unseen” continues a run of 4AD Records inspired material centered around atmospheric synths, angular guitars, a propulsive rhythm section and plaintive vocals. Thematically, the song focuses on some familiar and universal themes — nostalgia over a youthful yet major love that’s been long lost.

The recently released video features fittingly nostalgic footage by Len Elders that captures young people hanging out and goofing off in seemingly much simpler times.

New Video: Tony Glausi Releases a Funky New Bop Paired with Sultry Visuals

Portland, OR-born, New York-based musician Tony Glausi is an accomplished jazz trumpeter. But with his latest full-length effort EVERYTHING AT ONCE, which has already seen praise from Soulbounce, Under the Radar, Sonofmarketing, NYS Music, Earmilk, American Songwriter and Ghettoblaster, Glausi steps out into the spotlight as a bandleader, producer and singer/songwriter, boldly pushing his sound and approach into new directions with the album’s material drawing from pop, R&B and funk. “Coming out of high school and studying music in college, I was pretty fixated on jazz trumpet playing, and my earlier releases were heavily oriented around improvisation and swing,” Glausi explains in press notes. “But as I continue to write and explore new sounds, I feel like I get closer and closer to my true voice, one record at a time.”

Sonically, the album is much like a mixtape to the Portland-born, New York-based musician’s life, as a result of his willingness to try anything. But thematically, the album is quintessentially a New York album, full of the places, random faces and random interactions that you’d fully expect here. “The album is literally a two year snapshot of my life. Each story is like a scene from a film, or I guess 10 different films” Glausi says.

“Writing EVERYTHING AT ONCE, I felt like the project wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about Tony, the trumpet player. I just wanted to make fucking songs,” Glausi explains. “I sing on three of them, but I just wanted to produce the music and ultimately let my collaborators shine,” he adds. The album features guest spots from vocalist/saxophonist Braxton Cook, Latin Grammy-nominated artist Nana Mendoza Brooklyn-based vocalist Elysse, British vocalist Max Milner and emcee Charlemagne the Goddess.

EVERYTHING AT ONCE‘s latest single “Backseat Bump” is a slinky, late night funky jam centered around buzzing bass synths, wobbling bass lines, squiggling guitars, soulful cooing from Nana Mendoaz and a strutting trumpet solo from Glausi. Sonically, the track is one part Dam-Funk, one part Future Shock era Herbie Hancock — while being something that just exudes New York flavor.

The recently released video by Evan Hansen follows Morgan Bryant and Glausi on a wild day and night out on the town, with the incredibly attractive pair goofing off and being a carefree young couple, hooking up in the backseat of a cab.

New Audio: Portland’s Lore City Releases a Mesmerizing New Single

Although formed in 2011, the Portland, OR-based art rock duo Lore City — Laura Mariposa Williams (vocals, keys, guitar) and Eric Angelo Bessel (percussion, keys, guitar) — can trace their origins to when the duo met in 2003 while attending Syracuse University’s College of Visual & Performing Arts. Williams and Bessel manned to reconnect years later, formed Lore City and got married shortly after that.

As the duo explains their music is “born from the transformational power of sound. We hand over words, instruments, and rhythms; trading back and forth until everything belongs to both of us. Until we are distinguishable. We create from the belief that we all are one, and that we’ve been here before. Song fragments are shimmering all around us, ready to transport. We tune in and transcribe. Deep knowing, alongside the unfathomable unknown, is where we reside. Sonic soundscapes give way to archetypal figures and voices materialize. Sometimes we are just singing along with the ghosts that emerge from our chorus of effect pedals.”

The duo’s fourth album Participation Mystique is slated for a July 23, 2021 release through the band’s own imprint. Sonically the album finds the duo meshing elements of psych rock, post-rock, krautrock, post-rock, dark wave and dream pop into a difficult to pigeonhole, mesmerizing sound. Thematically — and perhaps even sonically — Participation Mystique is inspired by a once every 500 year celestial occurrence that happened in early 2020: Saturn directly aligning with Pluto within the constellation of Capricorn. According to astrologers essentially hard lessons joined forces with transformational evolution when it came to the infrastructure between the spiritual and the material.

Participation Mystique’s latest single “I Know You Know” is a brooding and cavernous mix of krautrock and psych rock centered around propulsive and blown out tribal beats, chanted vocals drenched in copious reverb, droning synths. The end result — to my ears — is a song that evokes a trance-inducing shamanistic ritual, meant to bring you closer to both one’s ancestors and the universe.

The duo describe “I Know You Know” as “a trait drone-rock anthem vibrating with tension between material and spirit.”

New Video: I M U R Releases a Sultry Pop Banger Rooted in Self-Doubt

Formed back in 2015, rising Vancouver-based indie electro pop act I M U R (pronounced I am You Are) — founding members singer/songwriter Jenny Lea and guitarist and producer Mikey J. Blige and producer/multi-instrumentalist Amine Bouzaher — have firmly established a unique sound that’s a cinematic yet sultry and catchy blend of alt R&B, avant-pop and contemporary electro pop paired with lyrics that tackle personal and often uncomfortable subjects like addiction, recovery, female sexuality, self-reflection, vulnerability and strength, partially inspired by Lea’s early, near-death experience and the strength and resiliency she gained from her recovery.

Since their formation, the act has released a growing batch of critically applauded material:

2015’s debut EP Slow Dive, which featured “Trippin’ On Feet”
2017’s full-length debut Little Death, which featured standout tracks “FFL” “Little Death” and “Breathless.” “Breathless” was featured in SyFy’s Wynonna Earp Season 2 and Freeform’s Good Trouble Season 1.
2018 saw the release of the Thirty33 EP, which featured “Miss You Hate You,” “Should Be” and “Afterglow.” All three of those tracks featured in a number of TV shows including Netflix’s Snowpiercer, Pretty Little Things, Wu Assassins and Workin’ Moms.

Adding to a rising profile, the act has amassed millions of streams globally, which has lead to the band landing on the Spotify Viral 50 Charts. They’ve won an Electronic Music Artist of the Year Award at the 2019 Western Canadian Music Awards — all while receiving critical applause across the blogosphere, including this site. Around the same time, the Canadian electro pop act managed to maintain a busy touring schedule: The act toured in India in 2018. The following year, they made the rounds of the North American festival circuit with stops at Shambala, Bass Coast, Capitol Hill Block Party and Winnipeg Jazz Fest, while playing shows in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

2019 saw the release of two more singles “Fever” and “Lips, Tongue and Teeth,” which I managed to write about on this site. Much like countless acts across the worlds, the pandemic put their touring plans on an indefinite pause; but the act used the newfound free time to write and record their highly anticipated album My Molecules.

Slated for a June 25, 2021 release, My Molecules will reportedly be a deeply personal journey into Lea’s life, centered around a thread of undeniable realness for anyone who’s experienced love, loss, lust and everything else in between. My Molecules’ second and latest single “Sad Girls Club” further cements the band’s penchant for genre-defying yet infectious pop: sonically the song meshes skittering trap beats, Quiet Storm-like R&B and contemporary electro pop in a sleek fashion. Thematically, underneath its club friendliness, the song is one part unvarnished confessional and one part messy cry at your own party because everything is fucked up.

“Sad Girls Club” was inspired by the first month of quarantine, when all of Lea’s daily distractions ground to a halt, and a lot of her personal demons reappeared. Self-doubt, depression and addiction patterns in her life bubbled up when she felt purposeless and adrift. Writer’s block became a harsh reality. “Sad Girls Club was my break-through from the block, but also by expressing my fears in a tangible way, it helped to pull me out of the mud,” Jenny Lea says in press notes. She goes on to explain that “Sad Girls Club is about the trickery our subconscious mind plays on us when we’re feeling low. It’s about Self-deprecation, unworthiness, and being burdensome.” I M U R’s Amine Bouzaher adds “Ironically, a lot of negative thoughts combined to create an epic, dark banger, and we were able to pour all of those feelings into the production of the track. It’s always amazing to see what incredible art and positivity can come from channeling negative thoughts and feelings.” The Canadian act’s Mikey J. Blige encapsulates the overall vibe of the song, by saying “It’s ok at any age to feel like an emo kid that loves pop music AND trap music.” 

Directed and edited by Sterling Larose, the glitchy visual features Lea laying an iron on herself and at other points wearing roughly 80 pound boat chains to symbolize the emotional weight and heaviness of doubt, depression and addition can have on a person. The tattoo that she gets the video is a real tattoo and the footage of her in the shower was part of an hour-long shower she took after. “I think it was the heaviness that sometimes comes along with being real and being honest,” Lea says. “Just because you’re being honest doesn’t mean that it’s gonna be a happy ending Disney princess movie.”